Logo Viasur Andalucía
Viasur, quality rental houses in a beautiful setting, established 1995.
  • 958 793 667
  • 637 517 523

Natural Parks in Granada

Sierra Nevada National Park Return

Sierra Nevada National Park

The Sierra Nevada is a dramatic, rugged and extensive mountain range, the highest in Europe after the Alps and the most significant section of the Cordillera Penibética. The protected area encompasses 86,208ha of torrential rivers, sheer-sided gorges, stony scree slopes, glacial lakes between snowy summits and, in the foothills of the Alpujarras, cultivated terraces of almond trees and vegetables.

Designated a national park in 1998, it is one of only two in Andalucia, the other being the Doñana National Park. It retains its status of natural park, which it has been since 1989, and this covers a marginally smaller area, of 85,777ha. It was declared a Unesco Biosphere Reserve in 1986, in recognition of its exceptionally diverse plant, bird and animal species.

There are over 20 peaks more than 3,000m, which makes it the second highest mountain range in Europe after the Alps. The two highest peaks in the Iberian Peninsula are in the park, the Mulhacén at 3,482m, closely followed by the Pico del Veleta, at 3,396m. On a clear day these mountains can be seen from as far away as Africa.

The park has a rich history, with the Tartessians, Visigoths, Romans and Moors all leaving their legacy in the area, which can be still be seen today; for example, the sophisticated irrigation systems inherited from the Moors and the distinctive architecture of the Alpujarras, with their flat-roofed houses, a design brought from north Africa with the Berbers. The Alpujarras have a long tradition of independence; the last Moorish king, Boabdil, famously sheltered here after the fall of Granada. It became the Moors' last refuge in Spain before their 1568 revolt failed and they were forced to leave Spain.

In the west of the park is Solynieve, Europe's southernmost ski resort, where the ski season generally runs from November to April. Apart from skiers and snowboarders at the resort, the park is popular with hikers, climbers and birdwatchers.

Apart from tourism, the economic mainstay of the Sierra Nevada is agricultural produce, with cereal crops, olives, grapes, almonds, walnuts, apples and cherries cultivated here, mainly in the southern foothills of the Alpujarras. Europe's most important iron mine is at Alquife, continuing a mining tradition in the Sierra that once included the extraction of copper and silver as well. Trevélez is renowned for its cured jamón serrano (mountain ham).

It's essential to bring high-factor sun protection and a hat, to prevent burning at this high altitude.

Sierra de Baza Natural Park Return

Sierra de Baza Natural Park

In the northeast of Granada province adjacent to neighbouring Almeria is the sparsely populated 53,649ha Sierra de Baza Natural Park, part of the Cordillera Penibética. Its steep slopes are mainly pine-clad, up to the more barren, rocky ground over 2,000m. Its central part is made up of remote, jagged limestone peaks, which can be snow covered for some of the winter and are inhabited by majestic birds of prey, like the golden eagle and another nine species of raptors.

The Sierra's topmost point is Santa Bárbara, at 2,271m, from where there are superb views; on clear days you can see the Cazorla Natural Park. Located between two arid plains - the Llanos del Marquesado, which separates it from the Sierra Nevada, and the Hoya de Guadix - the Sierra de Baza is by contrast a verdant landscape.

Many abandoned farms and villages - such as Casas de Santa Olalla, Tablas and Tesorero - are scattered about the park, evidence of the Sierra's population decline.

Information: Near Baza is a visitors' centre, the Centro de Visitantes de Narváez (958 002 018), which is accessible by taking the Baza exit on the A92 at Km 325. Next to the centre are the starting points of three signposted walks.

Access: The easiest entry point to the Sierra is from the A92 motorway. The park is signposted from the exits at Baza and Gor. The park is crisscrossed by a network of forest tracks, which give access on foot or by mountain bike. During the winter months, avoid driving in the Zona de Calares - the central high, rocky area - since the tracks are often blocked with snow and the road surface is frequently icy.

Sierra de Huetor Natural Park Return

Sierra de Huetor Natural Park

Designated a natural park in 1989, the 12,128ha Sierra de Huétor is only a few kilometres northeast of the provincial capital of Granada, so it is a popular weekend destination for city dwellers. The mountainous area has dramatic geological features characteristic of limestone areas, with narrow ravines, steep cliffs, springs and caves, such as the Cueva del Agua. The most famous spring is the Fuente Grande in Alfácar, cleverly used by the Moors as a source of water for the Albaicín in Granada city and transported via an irrigation channel called Aynadamar.

With its altitude ranging from around 1,100m to 2,000m and a marked climate variation within the park, it has a pronounced biodiviersity. It is noted for its botanical importance, with numerous endemic and rare plants growing here on its dolomitic sands, and the presence of the threatened wild cat.

The mountainous slopes are covered with pine trees, which were mostly planted in the early 20th century to try and halt erosion brought about by deforestation of the original vegetation due to agricultural activities, forest fires and charcoal production.

There is a visitors' centre in Puerto de Lobo near Víznar with information on the park, a picnic area and signposted walks. It is located on the road from Víznar to Puerto Lobo at Km 43, 958 540 426. Next to the centre is an area with birds and animals, such as mountain goats and stags, from the park

The park has superb views south to the nearby Sierra Nevada National Park; the viewpoints (miradores) in Víznar and Huétor-Santillán are some of the best places to visit.

Access: Only a few kilometres out of Granada city, the park is well signposted and easily accessible from the A92 motorway. There are two exits from the motorway to the park: one for the visitors' centre Puerto Lobo in Víznar and Las Mimbres, at Puerto de la Mora. The park can also be entered through Alfacar.

Sierra de Castril Natural Park Return

Sierra de Castril Natural Park

Designated a natural park in 1989, this rugged and spectacular limestone mountainous region in the north of Granada province, adjacent to the Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas Natural Park and part of the Sierras Bética, is exceptional for its geological features, with a dramatically eroded landscape of gorges, vertical cliffs, waterfalls and, below ground, numerous caves. It has abundant water, with an average rainfall of 700mm on its highest points, while many watercourses drain the area. There are also numerous springs and lots of waterfalls. The park has a total of 14 habitats, which means that it supports a wide variety of flora and fauna. Its altitude rises from 900m to over 2,000m.

It is north of the pretty village of Castril, with its steep streets and huddle of whitewashed houses, overlooked by the spectacular Peña de Castril. Next to the Embalse del Portillo, 200m from Castril village, on the C330 Pozo Alcón road at Km 0.2, is the park's visitors' centre (958 720 059), the starting point for six signposted walks. The centre has an audiovisual display and ethnographic exhibition on the park and a 3D model of the park.

Access: The park is easily accessible from the village of Castril, which can be reached by taking the A92 from Granada to Baza, and then turning north on to the A315 to Pozo Alcón, where the A326 leads northeast to Castril. From the park's visitors' centre are signposted walks, or follow the walk from the village along the Sendero Río Castril.

Sierras de Tejada, Almijara and Alhama Natural Park Return

Sierras de Tejada, Almijara and Alhama Natural Park

Designated a natural park in 1999, this large and rugged mountainous region of 40,663ha stretches across the provincial border of Granada and Malaga. Its western part in Malaga province is known as the Axarquía and is famous for its attractive villages dating from Moorish times. It is also superb hiking country and its numerous steep mountainsides make it ideal for climbers. Its highest peak is La Maroma, at 2,080m.

Geologically, the area is has some distinctive features. It is rich in quartzite and gneiss, which date from over 300 million years ago. The Sierra Almijara has one of Spains's most important areas of dolomitic marble, which gives the landscape its characteristic grey and white hues where erosion has broken down the marble into small stones. The main rock in the Sierra Tejeda is limestone, which has been severely weathered leaving a lanscape riddled with steep-sided ravines and plunging cliff faces.

There are many caves, the most famous being those at Nerja. Others are near the sierras' highest peak, at La Sima de la Maroma, and close to the village of Canillas de Aceituno. Its abundance of caves make speleology a popular activity here.

Its relative remote nature has meant that it has a high number of endemic species of flora and is rich in wildlife, particularly raptors and mountain birds. Its inaccessibility has also meant that historically, it has harboured bandits and later on, anti-Franco guerrillas during the Civil War. Its inhabitants were part of the Morisco rebellion. Part of the park has been designated a game reserve, the Tejeda y Almijara National Hunting Reserve.

Access: The park is easily accessible from the Malaga side of the sierras, via the villages of Alcaucín, Canillos de Aceituno, Sedella, Salares, Canillas de Albaida, Cómpeta and Frigiliana. North of Alcaucín is a minor, winding road that leads to a picnic area called El Alcázar, which is located by a stream of the same name and is inside the park. East of Canillos de Aceituno, towards Los Olivos on the MA126 road, is the picnic area La Rahige. East of Canillas de Albaida is the Fábrica de la Luz picnic area.

There are a few options for access to the park from the coastal N340. Either take the exit for Vélez-Málaga, and follow the A335 north towards Alhama de Granada. From this road you can turn off for Salares, Sedella, Canillas de Aceituno and Alcaucín. For Cómpeta and Canillas de Albaida, take the turning off the N340 to Algarrobo. For Frigiliana, take the exit just before Nerja.

Acantilados de Maro - Cerro Gordo Natural Park Return

Acantilados de Maro - Cerro Gordo Natural Park

This is a unique stretch of near-virgin coastline in Malaga, which runs for 12km east of Nerja to La Herradura in Granada province and covers an area of 1,815ha, including a protected part offshore. Its dramatic rocky steep cliffs (acantilados) plunge down to the sea, leaving a few sheltered bays with beaches in between, which can be accessed via staircases or tracks. Located on very edges of the Sierra Almijara, these limestone outcrops have been eroded by the sea and weather into fantastic shapes, with offshore stacks and arches and undersea caves like the Cueva de los Genoveses and the Cueva de la Cajilla.

Its popularity with visitors particularly in the summer months means that the beaches can get overcrowded and there are restrictions on vehicles driving down to some beaches, while camping on the beach and fishing in the protected waters are forbidden.

Access: The N340 coastal road has superb views of the area and there are a few signposted parking areas between Nerja and La Herradura, from where it is possible to go down to the beach. At Km 297 on the N340 is a short path towards the Torre de Maro, which has great views along the coast.